In case we needed another example that sulfide-ore mining has never been done without polluting surrounding waters, recently we learned that Washington state's attorney general filed a lawsuit over violations of the Clean Water Act by a sulfide-ore gold mine that has been releasing contaminants, including arsenic and lead, into tributaries of the Kettle River for years.
"Mining companies got the gold, but gave northeast Washington's scenic Kettle River country the shaft," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on May 7.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, PolyMet continues to push for a mine at the headwaters of the St. Louis River. Among its many claims, PolyMet has offered this truly remarkable promise: to capture 99.5% of contaminated seepage from tailings: over 2 billion gallons of it every year during operation. This means, even under this best-case, never-been-done-before scenario, more than 10 million gallons of polluted water would still seep into our groundwater every year.
This, as the World Economic Forum identifies water scarcity as one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Unfortunately, far too often, mining companies make promises to get permits only to later break those promises and violate the permits.
Our health, drinking water, and lands deserve protection. Our scenic St. Louis River deserves protection, protection that will be permanently denied if PolyMet's mine is built.